Martha fatigue report launched at the IMO

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InterManager, the trade association for in-house and third party ship managers, together with The Warsash Maritime Academy, has presented the findings of its fatigue study, Project MARTHA, to The International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Speaking at the presentation last night (Monday), Capt Kuba Szymanski, Secretary-General of InterManager urged the maritime industry to take notice of the findings as the industry recruits aspiring seafarers.

The report highlights growing levels of fatigue, particularly among Masters and Watch Keepers, and noted that motivation was a major factor in fatigue experienced by seafarers.

Findings of the report include:

Fatigue’s effect on Masters

A Master’s place on a ship is central to its performance, a claim which many would agree with. The project confirmed this and found a number of reasons for how a Master’s role differed from that of other crew members, including that Masters:

Have more weekly work hours

Feel that work in port is less demanding than work at sea

Are far more fatigued at the end of a contract

Are slightly more overweight compared to others onboard

Suffer from mental fatigue, compared to physical fatigue suffered by other seafarers

Fatigue’s effect on performance

The performance of seafarers onboard is paramount to a vessel’s operation and efficiency. The study found:

During interviews, seafarers pointed out that not being relieved on time was having an effect on motivation

48.6% of participants felt stress was higher at the end of a voyage

Sleepiness levels vary little during the voyage, suggesting there are opportunities for recovery while onboard

Fatigue and the cultural perspective

The cultural differences Project MARTHA sought to examine threw up some interesting results and a clear divides between European and Chinese seafarers were found:

European seafarers worked fewer hours than their Chinese colleagues

Chinese seafarers on dry bulk carriers worked an average of 15.11 hours a day compared to European seafarers who worked an average 10.23 hours a day

There is evidence of higher levels of fatigue and stress in Chinese seafarers, rather than European seafarers

Addressing IMO delegates and invited guests, Capt Szymanski said: “I sincerely hope the results of our research will be read and acted upon by ship managers and ship owners who will go on to revise their attitudes and procedures. There are a number of ‘low hanging fruits’ which, with a little adjustment, could make a big difference. These are not necessarily costly changes – such as having seafarers relieved on time and organising work onboard with humans and not regulations in mind and engaging sea staff in decisions – but empowering seafarers to take care of their lives more than it is today.

“Our people are our assets and we need to develop a strategy whereby shipping is once again seen as a career of choice for tomorrow’s young talented people.

“There is no avoiding the fact that the global fleet is increasing and more manpower is needed. However, we are demanding more from current seafarers rather than recruiting even more cadets into the market. Attracting new seafarers and retaining them will test the industry, but we cannot ignore these findings in making the industry an attractive place for aspiring seafarers.”